The first episode of This Is Us unfolded without any tricky twists up until the last few minutes, when it revealed that the group of characters everyone had been watching were more connected than they seemed. They weren't just a bunch of strangers who happened to share the same birthday; they were a family. The show follows three adult siblings – Kate, Kevin, and Randall – but also follows their parents Rebecca and and Jack back when they were just starting their family. So what is the This Is Us timeline?
Rebecca and Jack's story starts in 1980 with the birth of their children. Rebecca is pregnant with triplets but complications in the delivery result in one of the children being stillborn. In a twist of fate, that very same day newborn Randall, who had been abandoned by his birth father at a fire station, is brought to the hospital and then taken home by Rebecca and Jack. However, just because the story begins in 1980 doesn't mean it's going to stay there. This Is Us follows two separate timelines, one in the 80s and one in 2016, but the flashback portion of the series is going to jump around a little in time. So get ready for a variety of 80s hairdos.
While the first episode focuses on 1980 and 2016, the second episode will have a time jump while still remaining firmly in the past. The 2016 storyline will continue to remain where it is, but the 80s half of the series will be taking a small step forward to 1988. However, the third episode will find itself back in 1980 once again. According the series creator Dan Fogelman, Jack and Rebecca's storyline will continue to jump around in time as the show explores them raising their family.
"It won't just be the couple taking the babies home from the hospital, it's going to be the story of marriage and family," Fogelman told The Hollywood Reporter. "The pilot may have ended with them having the babies, but the second episode starts in 1988 and you see them eight years after having those kids. Then the third episode will go right back to the day they brought the babies home from the hospital."
It makes sense that a show telling the story of one family across generations will play a little fast and loose with the timeline. This Is Us is poised to explore all the different ways that families grow and change, as well as the different obstacles people face at various points in their lives. It's a journey that takes a long time, and that's something that should be represented onscreen too.
The only downside is Jack's 1988 mustache. No good ever came from a late 80s mustache.